Colin Slater, Long Beach State end UC Irvine’s Big West winning streak

  • Long Beach State guard Chance Hunter #31 drives to the basket in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • UC Irvine center Brad Greene #55 shoots over Long Beach State center Joshua Morgan #24 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

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  • Long Beach State guard Colin Slater #14 makes a basket around UC Irvine guard Evan Leonard #14 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State center Joshua Morgan #24 blocks a shot by UC Irvine forward John Edgar Jr. #11 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State center Joshua Morgan #24 reacts after missing a dunk shot in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner tries to get his team turned around in the first half in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • UC Irvine forward Collin Welp #40 works his way around Long Beach State guard Jordan Roberts #2 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State forward Romelle Mansel #13 is pressured under the basket by UC Irvine guard Evan Leonard, left, and forward Collin Welp in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson moves his team up the court after a turnover in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State guard Chance Hunter #31 is pressured by UC Irvine defenders under his basket in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State center Trever Irish #32 shoots over UC Irvine forward Austin Johnson #13 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State guard Colin Slater #14 drives around UC Irvine guard Isaiah Lee #5 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • UC Irvine guard Evan Leonard #14 and forward Austin Johnson #13 along with Long Beach State center Trever Irish #32 watch the ball go out of bounds under the basket in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State guard Jordan Roberts #2 shoots over the block attempt of UC Irvine forward Tommy Rutherford #42 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State guard Chance Hunter #31 has his shot attempt knocked away by UC Irvine center Brad Greene #55 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State center Trever Irish #32 scores over UC Irvine forward Tommy Rutherford #42 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State center Joshua Morgan #24 has his shot blocked by UC Irvine forward Tommy Rutherford #42 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • UC Irvine guard Evan Leonard #14 leaps over a fallen Long Beach State forward Romelle Mansel #13 to grab a loose ball in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State guard Chance Hunter #31 has the ball stripped and stolen by UC Irvine guard Eyassu Worku #24 in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Despite being fouled, Long Beach State guard Colin Slater #14 scores as he falls away in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State forward Romelle Mansel #13 grimaces as he grabs his hamstring after being fouled in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. LBSU won 63-56. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson, left, and UC Irvine head coach Russell Turner greet before the game in Long Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

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LONG BEACH — In Hollywood terms, Long Beach State’s 63-56 upset of UC Irvine on Wednesday night at the Pyramid was produced, directed by and starred point guard Colin Slater.

The junior guard had 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in a game that was littered with them, 16 by UCI and 15 by Long Beach.

Slater had three of the first four Long Beach baskets of the night and had a memorable series of three plays in the second half that turned a tight game into a 10-point LBSU lead and helped the hosts end the Anteaters’ 16-game winning streak in Big West Conference play (and their 14-game Big West road winning streak).

Leading 50-46, Slater slid across the lane for a short-range shot, then drove the basket and launched an off-balance one-hand shot that banked in. On the next possession, he tossed an 18-foot lob to center Josh Morgan for a thunderous dunk and 56-46 lead.

“Colin took charge down the stretch,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said, whose team improved to 7-14 overall, 2-3 in the Big West. “I told the guys that if we don’t start the game fast we’re in for a long haul, and Colin got us that start. There were crucial times throughout the game, on offense and defense, when Colin was the leader.”

Slater’s impact was thorough against a UCI team that likes to establish a rhythm. There were times when the Anteaters (11-9, 3-1) seemed frustrated with outside defense from Slater and his teammates.

“I don’t really care what (the opponent) is feeling, I’m just focusing on us and what we have to do on offense and defense,” he said. “I had to take a moment last week and check my own responsibility as a leader, and I was just focused on playing my best game.”

Slater had help. LBSU’s big men, Romelle Mansel (five points, five rebounds, two blocked shots), Morgan (seven points, six rebounds, two blocks) and Trever Irish (eight points) were active inside against UCI’s fleet of big men. Chance Hunter added 11 points for LBSU, which shot 46.2 percent from the field (24 for 52).

UCI shot a season-low 33.9 percent from the field and lost the rebounding battle (39-28) for the second consecutive game. Evan Leonard had 14 points and Tommy Rutherford and John Edgar Jr. had 10 each. Eyassu Worku was 2-for-10 shooting and leading scorer Collin Welp (14 ppg) was held to two points on 1-for-10 shooting, though he did add team-highs of eight rebounds and five assists.

UCI had not lost a Big West game since Jan. 16, 2019 (to Long Beach) and had not dropped a Big West road game since Jan. 20, 2018 (at UC Santa Barbara).

“Credit to Long Beach,” UCI coach Russ Turner said. “They outplayed us and intimidated us and played harder on the glass.”

UCI did have a lot of shots that rimmed out, but the Anteaters were just 5 for 26 from 3-point range (19 percent) and lost the battle for loose balls.

“We have been shockingly inconsistent at times this year,” Turner added. “We have to be better.”

“We’re a team that’s struggled on offense,” Monson said of his team. “UC Irvine is the gold standard in the league and it’s nice to get back on track against the cream of the league.

“We had a lot of guys contribute, which is what we have to do this season as young as we are. It’s great to see them show what they can do.”

LBSU’s win came on the heels of a pair of close losses, to UC Davis by three and to Cal State Fullerton by four.

The Anteaters got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, missing their first three shots and turning the ball over four times as Long Beach opened a 14-6 lead. UCI scored eight straight to tie the score, and the rest of the half was a back-and-forth, intense physical game with neither team unable to secure a rhythm.

Long Beach led 25-23 at halftime, then scored the first 10 points of the second half, UCI again missing its first three shots and turnovers by Leonard and Edgar leading to fast-break baskets.

UCI drew within four but then committed fouls on four consecutive plays and Long Beach extended its margin back to nine points. A Rutherford basket got UCI within 46-44 with 8:22 left, but Irish hit consecutive short-range jumpers and Slater scored on drives to the basket, the last an off-balance one-handed shot to give Long Beach a 54-46 lead with 3:22 left. Morgan then dunked on a lob from Slater to make it 56-46 with three minutes left.

UP NEXT

UC Irvine hosts Cal Poly on Saturday at 7 p.m. Long Beach plays at UC Riverside on Jan. 30.

Colin Slater with the AND ONE! Beach on top 54-46 as Slater now with 14 and the chance to put the Beach up nine. #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/HhUWCmfnGK

— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) January 23, 2020

Splash! New career high on this slick move from Trever Irish who now has eight points. Beach up six, just under seven minutes to go. #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/V2NgP5dDtj

— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) January 23, 2020

Isaiah cuts into the lead!

Catch the game on ESPN3➡https://t.co/NSJIIBck89 pic.twitter.com/TdcxSBiGPa

— UCI Men’s Basketball (@UCImbb) January 23, 2020

Beach on a 10-0 run after this steal and bucket from Colin Slater! The junior leads the Beach with 10 as LBSU on top 35-23 forcing a UCI timeout. #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/xdXHPwxKq4

— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) January 23, 2020

Hear from Coach Turner following tonight’s game against Long Beach⬇pic.twitter.com/J8fgFWcN1y

— UCI Men’s Basketball (@UCImbb) January 23, 2020

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Former Long Beach State star Troy Tulowitzki announces retirement from baseball

BOSTON — Former Long Beach State standout Troy Tulowitzki, a five-time All-Star with the Colorado Rockies who has missed most of the past two seasons with leg injuries, announced his retirement on Thursday, more than three months after he played in his last game for the New York Yankees.

“For as long as I can remember, my dream was to compete at the highest level as a Major League Baseball player . to wear a big league uniform and play hard for my teammates and the fans,” he said in a statement issued by the Yankees before a series against Boston. “I will forever be grateful for every day that I’ve had to live out my dream. It has been an absolute honor.”

Texas Longhorns head coach David Pierce announced later Thursday that Tulowitzki will join the coaching staff.

“I look forward to continuing my involvement in the game that I love . instructing and helping young players to achieve their goals and dreams,” Tulowitzki wrote in his farewell. “I’m saying goodbye to Major League Baseball, but I will never say goodbye 2 the game I love. Thanks again 2 all of you!”

5-time All-Star Troy Tulowitzki retires after a 13-year career. pic.twitter.com/iQpHSFzdka

— MLB (@MLB) July 25, 2019

Tulowitzki was NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2007, when he helped the Rockies reach the World Series for the only time in franchise history. He finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting three straight years from 2009-11; in all, he received MVP votes in six seasons.

He was traded to Toronto in the middle of 2015 and hit .254 with 24 homers and 79 RBIs the next year, his last full season in the majors. He spent most of 2017 on the disabled list with leg and ankle injuries, and then missed all of last season following surgery on both heels.

The Yankees signed him in the offseason, and he won the shortstop job in spring training while starter Didi Gregorius opened the season on the injured list. But Tulowitzki lasted just five games before going on the IL himself, straining his left calf on April 3.

“Even though injuries cut him short a little bit, it was a great career,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “What I’ll remember is obviously a great player and a guy that played shortstop, a great shortstop, but played it in such a unique way and with a flair. … He looked at home out there playing shortstop.”

Tulowitzki finished with a .290 average, 225 homers and 780 RBIs in 13 seasons with Colorado (2006-15), Toronto (2015-17) and the Yankees. He is one of three shortstops in major league history to with at least 20 home runs and a .290 average in six different seasons; the others are Alex Rodriguez (seven) and Nomar Garciaparra (six).

Troy Tulowitzki announced his retirement today, ending a terrific big league career that included 5 All-Star Game appearances and a pair of Gold Gloves & Silver Slugger Awards.

Hats off to one of the best Dirtbags to ever do it and best of luck with whatever comes next! #LBinMLB pic.twitter.com/lKFUWnTvPM

— LBSU Dirtbags (@LBDirtbags) July 25, 2019

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Cal State Fullerton baseball blanks Long Beach State in series opener

FULLERTON — For the first time in decades, the Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State baseball programs are meeting in a late-season series that has no postseason implications for either side.

That doesn’t mean the longtime Big West Conference rivals lack motivation when it comes to an opportunity to earn bragging rights over each other.

Pitchers Timothy Josten and Kyle Luckham combined on a shutout as the Titans defeated Long Beach 6-0 in their series opener on Thursday night at Goodwin Field.

The Titans, who swept the teams’ annual nonconference series at Blair Field earlier this season, are trying to complete a six-game season sweep for the first time since 2013.

Fullerton (23-25, 9-10 Big West) spent much of the night protecting a 1-0 lead before breaking the game open with a four-run seventh inning, highlighted by Kameron Guangorena’s two-run single.

Josten (3-4) had his best start of the season, as the left-hander held LBSU (11-39, 5-14) to four hits through seven innings while striking out two. Luckham allowed just three hits in the final two innings. It was the Titans’ third shutout of the season.

Zach Lew went 3 for 3 with two runs and an RBI to pace Fullerton, which will miss the NCAA postseason for the first time since 1991.

Senior Hank LoForte and Jacob Pavletich kicked off the final home series of their CSF careers with solid nights. LoForte went 3 for 4 with a walk, one run scored and an RBI. Pavletich went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk and a run scored.

Sophomore left-hander Adam Seminaris (3-9) allowing just one unearned run in six innings for LBSU, scattering four hits and two walks while striking out five.

Three LBSU players had multi-hit games: Chris Jimenez and Jacob Hughey both went 2 for 4, while Aidan Malm went 2 for 3 with a walk. Hughey and Malm each had a double.

Long Beach had at least one runner on base in seven of the nine innings and loaded the bases in the sixth with two hits and a walk, but Fullerton shortstop Brett Borgogno caught Chase Luttrell’s sinking line drive to end the threat. Long Beach managed a pair of singles and a walk in the ninth inning but stranded two runners in scoring position to end the game.

The series continues Friday at 8:15 p.m., with right-hander Nick Avila (0-4, 4.50) scheduled to start for LBSU. Fullerton has not named a started for Game 2. The series finale, which will be Senior Day for the Titans, is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

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Brubaker pitches complete game as UC Irvine baseball defeats LBSU Dirtbags

IRVINE – UC Irvine’s Tanner Brubaker and Long Beach State’s Nick Avila went head-to-head in a pitcher’s duel Saturday night at Cicerone Field, the Anteaters getting the win thanks to a ball that rolled about ten feet.

Brubaker won his fourth game of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.04, pitching the Anteater’s first complete game of the season in a 4-1 win, allowing just six hits, not walking anyone and striking out eight.

Avila, making his second start for the Dirtbags, allowed three hits in seven innings and the lone run scored against him cam home on a force play.

Tied 1-1 after 7 ½, the Anteaters rallied against reliever Tyler Gums. With one out, Mikey Filia drew a walk and went to third on Brandon Lewis’ single to left field.

With Adrian Damla at-bat, head coach Ben Orloff called for a safety squeeze. Damla’s bunt slowly rolled toward the pitcher but never reached the grass. Catcher Dominic Campeau stayed home and let Gums make the play, and the pitcher’s throw was too late to get Filia.

“We want to be able to win any kind of game we’re in,” Orloff said after the win that pushed the Anteaters to 20-5 on the season and 4-1 in Big West play. “It was a safety squeeze which can be tough to defend.”

Filia went on contact as the ball rolled toward the mound. “You just trust the play,” the junior center field said.

“You go on contact and run as fast and as hard as you can.

“I thought the pitcher did a good job getting off the mound and to the ball.”

“I’m not sure it was a safety squeeze,” Dirtbags coach Troy Buckley said. “It was just aggressive baseball. Filia did a great getting down the line.”

The bunt made it 2-1, and Christian Koss singled two runs home later in the inning to make it 4-1.

Both coaches praised their starters. Orloff left Brubaker in for nine even though he allowed the leadoff man to reach base in six of nine innings.

“The way he throws so many strikes, he wasn’t going to beat him by issuing any walks even when they had men on base,” Orloff said.

Avila pitched well in a five-inning start last week at Cal. He worked out of a second-and-third and one out rally in the sixth. UC Irvine was able to use a single, two walks and a groundout to nick him for a run in the seventh and tie the game.

“Nick gave us a chance to win, and I think that’s a good step up for him,” Buckley said of the junior right-hander. “That was his longest effort, and it would have been unfair to him if we had asked him to go any longer.”

Long Beach got its run on Calvin Estrada’s first home run of the season, a line drive over the left field wall.

The snake bit Dirtbags (4-25) got the leadoff runner on in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings but were unable to push a run across. In the eighth, Kyle Hogan singled, went to second on a bunt and to third on a fly ball, but Jacob Hughey struck out to end the rally.

The Anteaters finally got a run in the seventh. With one out, Mike Peabody singled. Avila then issued his first walk on four pitches to Christian Koss, then was ahead of John Jensen 1-2 before walking Jensen to load the bases.

Avila stayed in and Brooks hit a grounder in the hole a short that resulted in a fielder’s choice and a run to tie the game 1-1.

The Anteaters have gone from the unranked to the No. 19 spot in the latest rankings. They win Saturday clinched the series for them, giving them a series win in all eight they have played this season.

The teams finish the series at Cicerone Field today at 1 p.m.

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Jordan Roberts’ game-winner completes Long Beach State’s comeback win over Hawaii at Big West Tournament

  • Temidayo Yussuf #24 and Drew Cobb #3, both of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrate during their game against Hawai’i in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jack Purchase #12 of the Hawaii Warriors reacts during the final seconds of their game against Long Beach State in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrates in front of Jack Purchase #12 of the Hawaii Warriors during their game against Hawai’i in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Drew Cobb #3 of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrates during their game against Hawai’i in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Drew Cobb #3 of the Long Beach State 49ers is fouled by Drew Buggs #1 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers twists his ankle as he drives to the net past Jack Purchase #12 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers is comforted by Mason Riggins #5, left, and Bryan Alberts #10 after twisting his ankle against Hawaii during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrates scoring the game-winning basket during the final seconds of their game against Hawai’i in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Drew Buggs #1 of the Hawaii Warriors scores past Drew Cobb #3 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jack Purchase #12 of the Hawaii Warriors battles for a rebound with Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Deishuan Booker #15 of the Long Beach State 49ers grabs a loose ball in front of Leland Green #0 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jordan Roberts #2, left, and Drew Cobb #3, both of the Long Beach State 49ers trap Brocke Stepteau #2 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jordan Roberts #2 of the Long Beach State 49ers scores past Drew Buggs #1 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Eddie Stansberry #3 of the Hawaii Warriors dives for a loose ball with Edon Maxhuni #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Samuta Avea #32 of the Hawaii Warriors can;t believe the call in front of Mason Riggins #5 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson argues a non-call during their game against Hawaii during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Deishuan Booker #15 of the Long Beach State 49ers scores past the Hawaii defense during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Deishuan Booker #15 of the Long Beach State 49ers scores past Jack Purchase #12 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Drew Cobb #3 of the Long Beach State 49ers hits a three-pointer past Sheriff Drammeh #23 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Drew Buggs #1 of the Hawaii Warriors passes out of trouble against Long Beach State during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Temidayo Yussuf #24 of the Long Beach State 49ers grabs a rebound from Dawson Carper #44 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Hawaii head coach Eran Ganot on the sidelines during their game against Long Beach State in the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Deishuan Booker #15 of the Long Beach State 49ers tries to stop Brocke Stepteau #2 of the Hawaii Warriors during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson argues a non-call during their game against Hawaii during the quarterfinals of the Big West Men’s Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i 68-66. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Hawaii center Dawson Carper, left, is fouled by Long Beach State center Temidayo Yussuf during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Sheriff Drammeh, left, looks to score past Long Beach State forward Mason Riggins during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii coach Eran Ganot watches during first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Long Beach State at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Samuta Avea dives for the ball as Long Beach State guard Deishuan Booker watches during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Brocke Stepteau, middle, passes between Long Beach State guard Drew Cobb, left, and Jordan Roberts during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Sheriff Drammeh drives to the basket past Long Beach State’s Mason Riggins, right, and Jordan Roberts during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Drew Buggs, right, passes around Long Beach State guard Deishuan Booker (15) and guard Jordan Roberts during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Hawaii guard Sheriff Drammeh drives to the basket past Long Beach State’s Mason Riggins, right, and Jordan Roberts during first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Long Beach State coach Don Monson gestures during first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Hawaii at the Big West men’s tournament in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Long Beach State guard Jordan Roberts, takes the game-winning shot over Hawaii forward Jack Purchase during the final seconds of their Big West Tournament quarterfinal game late Thursday night at Honda Center. Long Beach State won 68-66. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Long Beach State guard Jordan Roberts celebrates after making the game-winning shot during the final seconds of the 49ers’ Big West Tournament quarterfinal against Hawaii late Thursday night at Honda Center. LBSU won 68-66. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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ANAHEIM — An 18-point deficit in the opening minutes seemed to spell doom for Long Beach State against Hawaii in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.

But a wild rally and the first 3-pointer of the season from walk-on Drew Cobb tied the score with 3:35 to play. Twenty-eight seconds later, Cobb calmly sunk two free throws to give Long Beach its first lead of the game, before a defensive breakdown allowed Hawaii to tie the score with 15.6 seconds to play.

But that just set the stage for Jordan Roberts to hit the biggest shot of his life.

Roberts hit a jumper from the elbow with half a second left, and Mason Riggins blocked the ensuing inbounds pass to give fifth-seeded Long Beach a 68-66 win and a spot in the Big West semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. against top-seeded rival UC Irvine.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my guys,” said head coach Dan Monson, who picked up his 200th career victory with Long Beach State. “Because it wasn’t a textbook win by any means. It was a gut-check, we-don’t-want-our-season-to-end win.”

The final possession began the way most late-game ones do for Long Beach, with the ball in the hands of senior guard Deishuan Booker. He dribbled at the top of the key until Roberts came to set a screen.

Roberts’ man cheated toward Booker, and he dished the ball back to Roberts. The sophomore dribbled forward to the elbow and released the game-winner. He was mobbed by his teammates as Hawaii called a timeout.

“Emotions were really everywhere,” Roberts said. “Considering all the seniors that we have, I didn’t want their season to end like this. So I just tried to come in and be as aggressive as I can.”

Early, it looked like the 49ers were going to be in for a long night. Fourth-seeded Hawaii got a couple of early second-chance buckets, while LBSU struggled from the field.

Before Long Beach could gather itself, Hawaii had built an 18-point lead. When Rainbow Warriors guard Drew Buggs hit a long, desperate jumper at the end of a shot clock, it seemed like everything was working against Long Beach.

“They came out and they were more prepared than us,” Monson said. “We were struggling with eight days off.”

But LBSU switched to a full-court press on defense, sparking an immediate 8-0 run. Hawaii struggled to advance the ball, resulting in one 10-second violation and several close calls.

“Desperation,” Monson explained the decision. “We let them get into way too good a flow to start the game. We tried man, zone and traps and everything the first 10 minutes and nothing worked. So it was just to next step to try and go full-court.”

With the extra possessions they created, the 49ers relentlessly attacked the rim. The result was 19 first-half free throws, enabling Long Beach to overcome a 33.3-percent mark from the field in the first 20 minutes and cut the deficit to eight by halftime.

Hawaii went back to work in the second half and increased its lead to 12 with 7:02 to play. Monson called a timeout, and Long Beach responded with an 11-0 run to get back into the game.

Now, Long Beach faces the regular-season champion, UCI, in the semifinals.

LBSU was the only team to beat Irvine in conference play this season, a 10-point win in January at UCI. The Anteaters got revenge two weeks later at the Walter Pyramid, but the 49ers lost that game by two on a last-second shot.

Given that experience, the 49ers are confident heading into the rematch.

“I feel like we match up well with them,” Booker said. “I feel we should have two wins against them, but that doesn’t matter. It matters about this one, and I feel confident.”

YES HE DID!
Y E S H E D I D!

JORDAN ROBERTS

a #BWT hero.@LBSUhoops | #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/ic3oQu0gGf

— #BigWestMBB (@BigWestMBB) March 15, 2019

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Long Beach State women eliminate Cal State Fullerton in Big West tourney opener

  • Long Beach State’s Kianna Hamilton-Fisher steals the ball from Cal State Fullerton’s Triann Thompson, left, during their first-round game in the Big West Conference Women’s Tournament on Tuesday night at UCI’s Bren Events Center. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Shanaijah Davison #21 of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrates scoring a basket during their first round game against Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Raina Perez #2 of the CSU Fullerton Titans steals the ball from Justina King #10 of the Long Beach State 49ers during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Naomi Hunt #42 of the Long Beach State 49ers scores past the CSU Fullerton defense during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Kianna Hamilton-Fisher #25 of the Long Beach State 49ers celebrates with teammates after their first round game against Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Justina King #10 of the Long Beach State 49ers tries to stop Raina Perez #2 of the CSU Fullerton Titans during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State’s Cydnee Kinslow blocks a shot by Cal State Fullerton’s Daeja Smith during their first-round game in the Big West Conference Women’s Tournament on Tuesday night at UCI’s Bren Events Center. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cal State Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada on the sidelines during their first round game against Long Beach State in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jade Vega #1 of the CSU Fullerton Titans scores past Lauren Green #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Raina Perez #2 of the CSU Fullerton Titans scores past Lauren Green #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State 49ers head coach Jeff Cammon on the sidelines during their first round game against CSU Fullerton in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State 49ers head coach Jeff Cammon talks to his players during a timeout during their first round game against CSU Fullerton in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cydnee Kinslow #1 of the Long Beach State 49ers battles for a rebound with Daeja Smith #32 of the CSU Fullerton Titans during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jade Vega #1 of the CSU Fullerton Titans battles past Shanaijah Davison #21 of the Long Beach State 49ers during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Justina King #10 of the Long Beach State 49ers is called for a charge on Carolyn Gill #23 of the CSU Fullerton Titans during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Jade Vega #1 of the CSU Fullerton Titans collides with Cydnee Kinslow #1 of the Long Beach State 49ers as the battle for a loose ball during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Long Beach State 49ers head coach Jeff Cammon on the sidelines during their first round game against CSU Fullerton in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cydnee Kinslow #1 of the Long Beach State 49ers grabs a rebound in front of Daeja Smith #32 of the CSU Fullerton Titans during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Shanaijah Davison #21 of the Long Beach State 49ers scores past Raina Perez #2 of the CSU Fullerton Titans during their first round game in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cal State Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada talks to his players during a timeout during their first round game against Long Beach State in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cal State Fullerton cheerleaders support their team during their first round game against Long Beach State in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cal State Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada on the sidelines during their first round game against Long Beach State in the Big West Women’s Tournament at UCI’s Bren Events Center in Irvine on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Long Beach State defeated Cal State Fullerton 60-54. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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IRVINE — The Long Beach State women’s basketball team had lost six of its last seven games coming into Tuesday night’s Big West Tournament opener at the Bren Center, but like a viral moment, they were “trending.”

The seventh-seeded 49ers, a senior-less team that gives most of its playing time to freshmen and sophomores, stepped up with one of their best games of the season, upsetting sixth-seeded Cal State Fullerton 60-54 and moving on to a quarterfinal game against No. 3 seed UC Riverside (16-14) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at UCI.

Sophomore Shanaijah Davison scored 21 points, freshman Kianna Hamilton-Fisher added a career-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting plus six rebounds, and Naomi Hunt had 15 points as the 49ers improved to 9-21 overall. Fullerton, which boasted 6-foot-3 center Daeja Smith and a team of upperclassmen, finished 14-16.

“I’m very proud of the way we played,” 49ers coach Jeff Cammon said. “We’ve had a tendency this season of having our energy dip when the other teams go on runs, but tonight was a 40-minute effort. We out-scrapped them.

“It’s a huge win when you’re putting the ball in the hands of a freshman at the point (Justina King), and when you’re asking a sophomore like Naomi (Hunt) to guard an all-league player like Daeja.”

The Titans had a 9-0 run in the first quarter but the 49ers battled back to trail by two and eventually cut the margin to one point by halftime. The 49ers gained confidence in the third quarter, hitting 7 of 14 shots.

The game turned hard in the fourth when Long Beach started throwing a variety of zone defenses at the Titans, allowing Hunt to handle Smith one-on-one and pressuring the Titans offense as they looked for shots on the edge.

“We did a little bit of everything,” Cammon said. “I thought they were getting a little comfortable, so we went to some match-up zones and a 2-3 looking to take them out of their rhythm.”

Fullerton coach Jeff Harada said his team left 20 points on the court by missing short follow-up shots and also going 7 for 14 from the free-throw line.

“You have to give credit to Long Beach, they played better and made more plays,” he said. “They had a lot of players hit shots tonight who hadn’t been their best shooters this season. These were the players we wanted to shoot, and tonight they made them.”

Hamilton-Fisher was around the ball a lot working out of the high post. She came into the game averaging just 4.4 points but dominated the game by getting herself into position.

“We’re a young team, but we’ve played a lot of games together,” she said. “It was just a matter of being aggressive and keeping the energy high.”

Long Beach’s 12-3 run to start the fourth quarter was a team conquest. Davison scored twice in transition and Hunt dropped in two short jumpers from the lane sandwiched around a baseline 3-pointer by Hamilton-Fisher. That pushed the lead to 55-44 with four minutes left.

Hunt scored inside during a Fullerton run to close to within 55-50, but the 49ers made five free throws down the stretch. Forwards Cydnee Kinslow and Lauren Green combined for 16 rebounds, and freshman King had eight assists.

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UC Irvine’s Russell Turner, Jonathan Galloway, Elston Jones receive Big West Conference awards

UC Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner was named Big West Conference Coach of the Year for the third time in the past six seasons on Monday, while a pair of UCI players also earned top awards when all-conference honors were announced.

Turner, who previously won in 2013-14 and 2016-17, led the Anteaters to their fourth Big West regular-season title in the past six seasons and the best regular-season (27-5) and Big West records (15-1) in program history.

Turner, the second-winningest coach in program history with a 184-127 career record, has his team on a 13-game winning streak going into this week’s Big West Tournament at Honda Center. The top-seeded Anteaters meet No. 8 seed UC Riverside in a first-round game on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Jonathan Galloway made history by being named the Big West Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive season, something no player had done before. UCI players have earned the defensive honor four years in a row and six times in the last seven years.

For the first time in his career, Galloway also was named to the all-conference first team. Galloway, who earlier this month became UCI’s leader in career rebounds, anchors an Anteaters defense that ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense (.380) and 22nd in scoring defense (63.8 ppg).

Senior Elston Jones is the first UCI player to earn the Best Sixth Player award. Jones leads the Anteaters with 1.6 blocked shots per game and ranks second in the conference in blocks and fourth in rebounds per game (7.0). He averages 5.8 points but had three double-doubles this season and a career-high 14 points against UC Riverside on Jan. 26.

Cal State Fullerton senior guard Kyle Allman Jr. received first-team honors for the second consecutive season. The Brooklyn product finished the regular season as the No. 4 scorer in the conference (17.8 ppg) and has scored in double figures in all but two games this season including 20-plus on 10 occasions and 30-plus four times. He is second on the team in assists as well.

Long Beach State senior Deishuan Booker was the area’s other first-team selection, becoming the sixth 49ers point guard to receive the honor over the last nine seasons. During conference play, Booker led the 49ers with 23.3 points per game, second in the Big West, while adding 4.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range and was a staggering 153 for 165 from the free-throw line (92.7 percent). The nation’s leader in free throws made, he goes into the Big West Tournament having made 46 consecutive free throws.

The Cal State Northridge duo of freshman Lamine Diane and sophomore Terrell Gomez rounded out the first team, and Diane made history by becoming the first player ever to win Big West Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.

Originally from Dakar, Senegal, the 6-foot-7 Diane broke the Matadors’ single-season records for points (769), rebounds (344), field goals made (321), blocked shots (66) and double-doubles (19) while leading the Big West in points per game (24.8), rebounds per game (11.1) and blocks per game (2.1). Diane tied a CSUN Division I single-game record by scoring 39 points against Fullerton on Jan. 31. He led the nation in field goals made during the regular season and finished seventh in the nation in points and rebounds per game.

Last season’s Big West Freshman of the Year, Gomez enjoyed an outstanding sophomore season. He finished second in the Big West in points per game (19.2) and free-throw percentage (87.5) and led the league in 3-point field goals made (111) and minutes per game (37.8).

UCI guard Max Hazzard and Cal State Fullerton guard Khalil Ahmad were named to the All-Big West second team, while UCI juniors Tommy Rutherford and Evan Leonard, Fullerton forward Jackson Rowe and Long Beach State seniors Mason Riggins and Bryan Alberts all received honorable mention accolades.

Ahmad, the 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year, is one of just five players in program history to earn all-conference honors three or more times during their careers and he’s the first to do so since Bobby Brown (2004-07).

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UC Irvine avenges only Big West loss with last-second win over Long Beach State

  • Long Beach State’s Deishuan Booker goes up for the shot between UC Irvine’s Eyassu Worku and Max Hazzard as the two teams battle it out Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Tommy Rutherford tries to block Long Beach State’s Mason Riggins shot as the 49ers take on the Anteaters Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Long Beach State’s Bryan Alberts goes up for the three as the 49ers take on UC Irvine Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Evan Leonard tries to get past Long Beach State’s Temidayo Yussuf as the two teams battle it out Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach State’s KJ Byers tries to block UC Irvine’s Elston Jones shot as the 49ers take on the Anteaters Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach State’s Deishuan Booker pushes past UC Irvine’s Robert Cartwright as the 49ers take on the Anteaters Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Evan Leonard goes up for the shot as the Anteaters take on Long Beach State at the Pyramid Saturday, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Robert Cartwright draws the foul from Long Beach State’s Edon Maxhuni as the 49ers take on the Anteaters Saturday night, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Long Beach State’s KJ Nuyers goes up for the shot as the 49ers take on UC Irvine Saturday night, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Elston Jones tries to block Long Beach State’s Temidayo Yussuf’s shot as the two teams battle it out at the Pyramid Saturday night, February 2, 2019 in Long Beach. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Max Hazzard looks to beat the clock as Long Beach State’s Drew Cobb defends during their Big West Conference game on Saturday night at the Pyramid. (Photo by Tracey Roman, Contributing Photographer)

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LONG BEACH — With the chance to avenge its one loss of Big West play and a tie score with seconds rapidly ticking off the clock, UC Irvine bounced the ball in to forward Tommy Rutherford.

One dribble, then two, then Rutherford turned and with a silky soft touch pushed a hook shot up and into the rim with only two seconds remaining.

Long Beach State forward K.J. Byers was off the mark with his half-court attempt at the buzzer, and UCI escaped the Walter Pyramid with an 82-80 revenge win in the Black and Blue Rivalry rematch.

“We were fortunate that we were able to win,” UCI head coach Russell Turner said. “I’m happy for all of our guys because everyone had a positive part in how that play unfolded. Our spacing was good and Tommy rose up over a top-level defender and delivered it.”

When Long Beach beat UCI in January, it seemed that, despite LBSU’s ugly nonconference performance, the 49ers might be a real Big West contender. Meanwhile, were the Anteaters, the preseason favorites, not ready for the test?

The three weeks that have followed that game proved that those assumptions from last month couldn’t have been further from the truth.

UCI (19-5, 7-1 in Big West play) has won five in a row to take over the top spot in the conference and has avenged its lone loss in conference.

“I think our team’s confident,” Turner said. “We had a lot of motivation in this game. They clearly did too with the way they played.”

Long Beach State (8-15, 2-5), meanwhile, has suffered the inverse as it finds itself in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

“I’m disappointed just for my guys because I really was proud of their effort,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said. “We just need to play better. I know they’re frustrated but today we didn’t play frustrated. They just need to stay together.”

Not that Long Beach didn’t put up a good fight Saturday. The game was befitting a rivalry matchup, with physical and chippy play.

LBSU guard Deishuan Booker, who finished with a game-high 29 points, hit a reverse layup to give the 49ers a three-point lead with 3:42 to play, flexing to the Long Beach crowd as UCI called a timeout.

But UCI’s Evan Leonard hit a corner 3-pointer, his third of the game. Including that shot, UCI hit its final four shots.

“You can see guys are hungry, guys are competing, guys want to win,” Booker said of Long Beach State’s effort. “It’d be easy to come out and just kind of fold … so I’m comfortable with where we’re heading.”

Other Big West scores

UC Davis 84, UC Riverside 71

Cal State Northridge 83, Cal Poly 65

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Long Beach State frustrated after narrow loss at Stanford

STANFORD — For the fourth time this season, Long Beach State had a Pac-12 opponent on the ropes late, but the end result was more frustration for the 49ers.

Trailing at Stanford on Saturday night, Long Beach had a shot to tie the score with less than 10 seconds left, but Jordan Griffin’s 3-point attempt fell well short. The 49ers bench immediately yelled for a foul call, but there was no whistle on the play, and Coach Dan Monson was eventually ejected for arguing the call in a 93-86 loss to the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion.

Bryan Alberts scored a season-high 22 points and six rebounds on 6-for-13 shooting from 3-point range to lead the 49ers (5-10), who dropped to 0-5 against Pac-12 teams this season. Deishuan Booker added 20 points and a season-high eight assists and Temidayo Yussef had 13 and a team-high eight rebounds.

“That’s our fifth Pac-12 game and in four of them we were in a one-possession game and lost all four,” Monson said. “You play these games to win, and I think we’re good enough, but we’re not consistent enough. That’s what we take away from this one.”

Stanford led 82-70 with less than three minutes left, before an Alberts 3-pointer kicked off a 14-4 Long Beach run. That stretch included a pair of buckets from Yussuf, another triple from Alberts, and a 3-pointer from Griffin that cut the margin to 86-84 with 56 seconds left. The Beach got the look to tie in the closing seconds, but the no-call on his field goal try was the decisive moment that ended the comeback attempt.

KZ Okpala had six points of his 20 points in the final 34 seconds as Stanford closed on a 7-2 run, and the no-call on Griffin’s late miss essentially ended the 49ers’ comeback attempt. Stanford was just 7 for 21 from the free-throw line to help LBSU stay within striking range.

Josh Sharma, Stanford’s only senior recorded his first double-double with career highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds. Sharma, whose previous career bests were 15 points and nine rebounds, was 10-of-15 shooting.

“I was mad at him,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “I wanted him to play with more consistency and be a leader. He responded when I’ve been all over him.”

Daejon Davis had 17 points, on 8-of-9 shooting, and five assists for Stanford (7-5), which has won five of seven. Jaiden Delaire added 10 points for the Cardinal.

Alberts hit a 3-pointer and Yussef made a jumper Long Beach a 45-43 edge but Stanford responded with a 13-1 run to make it 56-46 with just less than 14 minutes remaining and the Cardinal led the rest of the way.

Long Beach State, which beat Stanford for the first time last season, dropped to 0-8 on the road.

Davis left the game with an apparent left leg injury with 6:40 remaining. Haase said he doesn’t know the extent of the injury.

“Daejon is a huge part of this team, but there are guys willing to step into his role,” Sharma said. “We got together and got past that.”

UP NEXT

Long Beach State hosts Bethesda in a nonconference game next Saturday at 7 p.m.

Stanford travels to UCLA to open Pac-12 play on Thursday.

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Cal State Fullerton’s Colton Eastman, Rick Vanderhook earn Big West awards

Cal State Fullerton pitcher Colton Eastman and Coach Rick Vanderhook received Big West Conference postseason awards as the league’s Pitcher and Coach of the Year on Wednesday, while relief pitcher Blake Workman and second baseman Hank LoForte joined Eastman on the all-conference first team.

Eastman, who pitched the fifth no-hitter in program history in a 3-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara on March 29, pitched 103.2 innings and struck out 108 en route to a 2.26 ERA. Eastman (9-3) anchors a Titans pitching staff that ranks seventh in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.04) and fifth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.69). He is the 14th Titan to earn Big West Pitcher of the Year honors.

Vanderhook earned his fifth Big West Coach of the Year honor after guiding the Titans to their 22nd league title with an 18-6 mark. After dropping their opening series to UCSB, the Titans won their final seven league series to wrap up the crown before the season’s final week. Fullerton will make its 27th straight NCAA appearance when it opens play in the NCAA Stanford Regional on Friday. The fifth COY award ties Vanderhook with George Horton for the most in program history.

Workman went 1-1 with three saves and a 2.81 ERA during 15 appearances in conference play. He had 35 strikeouts and eight walks in 25-2/3 innings. LoForte batted nearly .400 during conference play, scored 21 runs and had 20 RBIs and was constantly in the middle of key rallies.

Cal Poly’s Alex McKenna was named Big West Field Player of the Year and teammate Nick Meyer (Santa Margarita High) earned Defensive Player of the Year. UC Riverside’s Cole Percival was named Freshman Pitcher of the Year while UC Davis’ Tanner Murray was named Freshman Player of the Year.

Fullerton, UC Irvine and Hawai’i paced the league with three first-team selections apiece.

Five other Titans received all-conference recognition as Jacob Pavletich, Tommy Wilson and Ruben Cardenas earned second-team honors, while Mitchell Berryhill and Daniel Cope were given honorable mention nods.

Nine UCI players earned all-conference honors, led by first-team selections Andre Pallante, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Parker Coss.

Pallante, named one of five finalists for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame’s National Pitcher of the Year award, was the only pitcher in the Big West to win 10 games, going 6-1 in conference play and leading the league with a 1.60 ERA. His 115 strikeouts ranked No. 2 among conference pitchers.

Fitzpatrick, a first baseman, led UCI and the Big West in on-base percentage (.436) while pacing the Anteaters with 44 RBIs and a .526 slugging percentage. He hit .307 with 59 hits and 14 doubles and shared the team lead with eight home runs.

Coss’ .276 average was second among Big West third basemen, and he was arguably the conference’s best defender at the hot corner.

UCI’s Cole Kreuter and Konnor Zickefoose earned second-team honors, while Matt Reitano, Jordan Bocko, Christian Koss and Brendan Brooks received honorable mention nods.

Two-way standout Clayton Andrews was Long Beach State’s lone first-team selection, earning the nod as a starting pitcher. The five-time Big West Pitcher of the Week led the conference with a 1.11 ERA during conference play, finishing with a mark of 1.99 overall. His 118 strikeouts led the conference, and his 11.21 strikeouts per nine innings during conference games was easily the highest among starters. Andrews allowed 78 hits and 17 walks in 99.2 innings pitched, giving him a conference-best WHIP of .950.

Andrews also hit .302 with a team-leading five triples. He was second on the team in RBIs (26), walks (25), and stolen bases (13) and struck out just six times in 215 at-bats, making him the toughest batter in the country to strike out. Andrews was also the first player in Big West history to win Pitcher of the Week and Player of the Week during the same season.

Three Long Beach players earned second-team recognition: second baseman Jarren Duran (Cypress High), junior closer Chris Rivera and starting pitcher Zak Baayoun (Woodbridge High). LBSU had no honorable mention picks.

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